'Heavy-handed' police ban grandmother from making cheese wheel for famous Gloucester cheese rolling downhill chase

Elderly Diana, 86, has been making the cheese for the madcap event since 1988 (SWNS) (SWNS)

Police trying to clamp down on the infamous 'Gloucester cheese rolling' event have banned an elderly grandmother from making the giant cheese wheel used in the madcap downhill chase.

Farmer Diana Smart, 86, who has made the famous Double Gloucester for a quarter of a century, was banned from making the special wheel of cheese by 'heavy-handed' police who turned up at her house.

Every year the massive 1ft diameter cheese has been rolled down the hill - followed by brave competitors who risk life and limb to chase it and reach the bottom first.

But Diana, who has provided the large piece of cheese since 1988, has now been warned off doing so for this year's race on Monday - after police used 'scare tactics' to stop her in her tracks.

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Three officers visited her farm and told her not to donate five 8lb wheels of her cheese - in a bid to prevent the 'dangerous' event.

Diana, who makes cheese at her Old Ley Court farm in Churcham, Glos, was warned she could be liable for anybody injured - and so has pulled out.

It is the first time in its 200 year history that police have banned a cheesemaker providing the cheese - leaving organisers considering using something else instead.

Diana said the 'heavy handed' police visited her home last week and told in a ''threatening'' manner she would be responsible for any injuries caused.

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She said: 'We are not allowed to give them cheese this year. The police came to my farm and said it could cause us an enormous amount of damages.

'I just have to take it as they have said. We cannot do anything about it. It’s crackers the fact that the police came round and warned me not to give the event some cheese.

'I like doing it, it’s always brought me such joy and a smile. The police were so heavy-handed.

'They threatened me, saying I would be wholly responsible if anyone got injured.

'I’m 86, I don’t have the will or the cash to fight any lawsuits. It’s crazy.

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'I really don’t know if anyone will step up to the plate and provide them with a cheese.

'It’s such a shame - the police are using scare tactics on businesses because they can’t break the will of the locals.'

There are five races - three for men, one for women, and one safer uphill chase for children.

The event sees runners reach speeds of up to 70mph as they hurtle down the steep slope after the rolling cheese.

Injuries suffered at the cheese rolling including broken arms, legs and even backs.

Following health and safety fears 2009 was the last official cheese rolling event - but unofficially the event is still held every year, without proper medical cover or insurance.

Diana sells her traditionally-made cheeses at farmers' markets and posh grocers Fortnum and Mason - but this year will now not arrive one for the event.

Organisers of the annual spectacle said they will defy any bid to stop the race happening.

A spokesperson said: 'It's outrageous. Completely unbelievable. You cannot stop someone selling cheese.

'If they try to stop us, we will use something else or get some cheese elsewhere.'

A Gloucestershire police spokesman confirmed Diana had been given ''advice''.

He said: 'Advice has been given to all those who have participated in any planning of an unofficial cheese rolling event this coming bank holiday.

'This included the individuals who provide the cheese. We feel it is important that those who, by law, could be constituted as organisers of the event are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation.'